Tag Archives: Ethiopia Runners

Haile Satayin Will be the Oldest Olympic Marathon Runner

With a passport reading 53 years, Haile Satayin will be the oldest runner at the start of Beijing Olympic Marathon this August.

I got his story from listening to Satayin audio interview on NPR. The Israel runner will be one of the oldest runners at this years Beijing Olympics. If you think Haile Satayin is too old to run at this level, keep in mind that 4 years ago at Athens Olympics marathon the man was finisher No. 20. His personal best time for a marathon is 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 21 seconds at a competition in Venice in 2003.

Does the name Haile sound familiar? Satayin emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1991. Moving from the famine of Ethiopia to fast food lifestyle of Israel can have a dramatic effect to a man’s weight. He says that living in Israel made him gain weight, and he needed a way to slim down. He soon started running competitively.

Haile Satayin Training Programme

Most days, Satayin gets up around 4:30 a.m. and runs at least a half-marathon before it gets too hot. Am only 27 and I can only manage a half-marathon once a week,  I NEED TO PULL UP MY SOCKS.

Satayin is currently training in the hills of his native Ethiopia, where it’s cooler. Just like other Olympic hopefuls, he is dreaming big.

“It would be great to win a medal, but in any case I’ll compete and do my best. I’m the oldest runner there, and I thank God that he’s given me strength to run. As long as I can, I’ll keep running,” he says.

Although I will be rooting for Kenyan runners at Olympics, I will be happy if Haile Satayin wins at least a bronze medal.  I wish him best of Luck.

Democracy and Its Impact on Kenya Running

Getting Kenya runners into a residential camp is proving to be a headache for head Coach Julius Kirwa, who is pleading in local media for the athletes to heed Athletics Kenya call to train together for a month to boost their prospects in Beijing.

With the rich European Golden League and Grand Prix season just starting, some of the elites feel their bank balances would be seriously dented if Athletics Kenya insists that they pitch camp in Eldoret before next month’s Olympics trials. Most runners are opting to do their own training.

Kenya runners have been upstaged by Ethiopian runners in recent major meetings and Kenya athletics federation thinks one reason why Ethiopian runners have done so well is because they train as a team just before a major a tournament. But Kenya runners won’t heed calls to report to camp.

Why Kenyan Runners Can’t be forced into a training Camp

One difference between Ethiopia and Kenya is the level of democracy in these countries. The way a country is governed is always reflected in the way sports federation are run. While Kenya is miles ahead of Ethiopia in development of democracy; active opposition, free media and assertive citizenry. Ethiopia is still ruled by a strong man. Just last week, Ethiopian President Zenawi was re-elected without opposition.

Anything Zenawi says, Ethiopia does. And the Ethiopian federation officials have learn’t from him; when Haile Gebreselassie announced he wont be running in Beijing the Ethiopian federation hit the roof,


It is not up to Haile Gebrselassie to decide on participation in the marathon event in Beijing,” EAF technical director Dube Jillo said.

“It is the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, representing the nation, that determines whether Haile is fit to compete in the marathon event in Beijing’s Olympics or not.” As they tried to force Haile to run the marathon.

While this command and control style has helped the Ethiopian federation force discipline in the national team, In Kenya such tough talk would be met with talks of WE HAVE RIGHTS!

Their word was law

In the 80s Kenya was an autocratic country and thats how everything was run. Most sports federation were run by allies of the president. If the federation said “get into camp” everyone got in running. In the 80s dissidence was not tolerated in Kenya. This was an era Kenya runners won medals after medals around the world, thanks to the forced discipline. If any runner had tried to run outside the country without the authority of the federation, it would have been very easy for the officials to have his pass port withdrawn.

In the 90s multi party democracy arrived in Kenya and citizens got a voice. Street mass action became a divine right, teachers who are employed by government even staged a successful strike in the 90s that forced the government to award them a 200% salary hike. Kenya athletes started jetting outside the country to compete, confidently knowing no one had powers any more to stop them.

Today, With their old power dismantled, the Kenya federation officials can only look at Ethiopia federation with envy.

Long live peoples power!!